Online PR in Ireland – Are Irish PR companies too busy ringing about their press releases to notice?

(BTW: This is an Online PR course we’re looking to provide)

Definition of PR from the PR Institute of Ireland:

Public relations – The dissemination of purposefully planned and executed messages to selected media and publics to enable an organisation (or person) establish and build relationships founded on trust, and to enhance and safeguard its reputation.

E-Consultancy in the UK released a great report this week on Online PR and the attitudes from agencies and their clients about it.

The favoured definition of Online PR from that report is:

The most popular definition was “maximising favourable mentions of your company, brands, products or websites on third party sites”, indicating that current Online PR objectives are more outreach and engagement-based than identifying, listening to and understanding stakeholders.

Some of the other definitions offered were:

  • Maximising favourable mentions of your company, brands, products or websites on third-party sites.
  • Using new technology to effectively identify and create a dialogue with stakeholders.
  • Extending reach and awareness of your brand.

And over in Eire…

If you look up the definition of Online PR on the website of the Public Relations Institute of Ireland you won’t actually find one. It’s not in their glossary which I guess is endemic of what is not happening in Ireland in terms of Online PR. Neville Hobson has been over a few times now to bash their heads together, good for him, people like Neville are needed but I wonder is he seen as some kind off curiosity instead of the saviour to their industry?

This is an industry that needs saving according to the figures from PRII and Drury’s Paddy Hughes. 20% decline in business in 2009? 2008 seeing 0% growth? Ouch and ouch. As the Online PR industry in the UK and around the world is thriving too?

turkey, before
Photo owned by nayrb7 (cc)

Most Irish PR firms are just not getting Online PR here. Too many are into “harvesting” email addresses off blogs and then sending the usual old shite they send to journalists. If a journalist isn’t going to read your useless unengaging press release, the blogger you’re spamming will have less interest again. As will a Beboer, a Facebooker or a LinkedIner. Bloggers are not being paid to file copy and fill up space so they might just be pickier than a journalist and their audiences certainly differ.

A recent digital marketing firm (not PR now mind) spammed a load of Irish bloggers about some ill-fitting product and when I took this up with them they said the client dictated it. Now with even less balls, it’s online relations!

Getting it/not getting it

So do the main PR companies get online? Not sure they fully do. Looking at some of the PRII Council Members and their companies let’s see what we get: (I got depressed after looking at these few and didn’t bother looking at the rest)

Blog? No
RSS feed for their news items? Yes.
Social Bookmarking options around their press releases? No
Search Engine Optimised releases? No
Additional content around the press releases? No
Date of last news item? May 18th, 2006

Saying that, Drury have been very proactive with me for HP one of their clients. Sending me review gear the odd time and inviting me to HP events. To

Gibney Communications
No to all.
Date of last news item? Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Murray Consultants
No no no.
Last news item. 31st October 2007

Bespoke Communications?
Well they have a Facebook Fan page which is pretty monumental for an Irish PR company. Well done on that.
No to the rest.
No news page.

However when it comes to pissing off bloggers, they’re very good at it. Below is a stupid email Bespoke Communications sent to me about a blog post on broadband prices in Ireland. Despite the fact I met their boss at a BT Ireland event and chatted to him I got a cold impersonal email suggesting I am somehow making BT look bad.

To whom it concerns,

On behalf of BT Ireland, we would be grateful if you would please refer to BT Ireland’s official website,, for all official pricing details. …

A number of recent reports on broadband prices in the Irish market have included incorrect price details for BT Ireland. Therefore, we would be grateful if you would reference the BT Ireland website for any future references to BT prices for broadband in Ireland.

Dictating anything to a blogger is not going to go down well. Suggesting to the blogger they are being communicated AT because of issues with incorrect prices is downright insulting. For once I was civil with such a reply. Most bloggers would not be and an email like this could have easily ruffled enough feathers for bloggers to blog more on the issues, not less.

Depressing. You can check out the other PR companies from the list and see how they measure up if you want.

There are a few shinier lights though.

Hope without Obama

Edelman get it. They would what with being an International powerhouse. They blog, kinda. Piaras Kelly is in their Irish office and is well known and respected in the Irish blogging community because he’s part of it.

Slattery Communications are getting it with both running Facebook events and creating their own Facebook Creativity Application. And a blog! They have staffers who blog too. Eoin Kennedy for example.

Thinkhouse PR (Disclaimer: we have an unfortunate history) are getting it too.

Are there more examples of Irish PR firms getting it?


Should a PR company not have at a minimum the following if they are to get Online PR?

  • A blog.
  • An RSS feed for news items. Bloggers might just subscribe to technology press releases or social.
  • A Facebook presence either officially via a page or via PR staff inviting people to events created on Facebook. There are 400,000 Irish on Facebook, reaching out to these active people is crucial.
  • Staff on Twitter
  • Releases dedicated to the online communities that exist.
  • Events tailored to those online communities.

I’m sure the usual excuses will pop up. They pop up in all aspects of life. It’s like this though: The boat is sinking and you can either learn to swim or you can die.

One example: How have telcos reacted to online negativity?

Looking at telecoms for when it comes to Online PR in Ireland you can see how the companies and their PR agencies are missing out. Three Ireland have a complaint thread on that has been viewed almost half a million times (449,285), it’s 379 pages long! Where’s the Online PR here? would (I’m guessing) love to have someone from Three to come along and engage constructively about this.

O2 did nothing about the rantings over their Paddy Tax and then when they treated potential and existing customers like crap and there was an online backlash, they still did nothing.

In the UK, O2 have their own Twitter accounts and real people who respond to issues. But not in Ireland.

And how many Irish PR companies have been to Measurement Camp? Measure what? Yeah.

Death by Internet

2009 is going to be very interesting for those who have forseen the growth of online and are geared up to tackle it. If the whole industry is going to tank by 20% though, it might not be so rosy for others. Death by ignoring the Internet.

"The Nick Jonas FANCLUB!"
Photo owned by Ezy Brenizzle (cc)

18 thoughts on “Online PR in Ireland – Are Irish PR companies too busy ringing about their press releases to notice?”

  1. Lots of food for thought there.

    The weirdest thing for me though is that more and more folk are ‘getting’ the whole online thing, at least in principle. It’s the implementation that often falls flat. That, and the lack of commitment to making things work.

    Completely stunned by the mobile operators though given the sheer level of budgets they push from marketing depts. Why they dont target a tiny fraction into using online social channels etc is just plain crazy.

    Excellent post though – was wondering where you’d disappeared to 🙂

  2. Excellent post and sums up the whole industry very well. I would never use a PR company here in Ireland as I think online has far more potential, especially as a small company who wouldn’t have a budget for their crap anyway. One thing they have figured out on the internet is Google Adwords so one would imagine if they can figure that out they should manage a Facebook Page!

  3. Good to see someone addressing this. Online PR is a very different thing to print/radio/TV PR. If PR agencies don’t realise that, they’ll make a mess of it.
    However, things like RSS and putting news on websites aren’t really “online PR” – they’re just making it easier to do the traditional style of PR.

  4. Damien,

    Interesting post as always.

    The Public Relations Institute of Ireland invited Neville Hobson to address this year’s Annual Conference in May and just recently to host a PRII professionals training seminar titled ‘New Media in PR and Communications Strategies’.

    There has been considerable discussion within the Institute about the rolling out of new professional development courses and Online PR has been earmarked for further expansion in 2009.

    I will be talking with Paddy Hughes (President, PRII) and Gerry Davis (CEO, PRII) about future developments and will keep you posted.

    Kind regards,

    Steve Rawson (Hon. Treasurer – PRII)

  5. Peter, they don’t seem to be using their Twitter account at all effectively. Spitting out the status of the forum etc does not equal valuable engagement. Tweeting like that is almost like coldcalling or sending an impersonal email pushing a press release.

    During my lengthy comms with O2 and one of their retail supervisors, I pointed to the way that Comcast uses Twitter and actually follows up on customer inquiries. I also told them to engage with bloggers and customers who had problems, online more. I’m not sure where this advice ended up. Possibly in the ether. There’s nothing like hiding in a storm of controversy to propagate bad PR.

    At essence, great online PR is about being active. Active in the places people talk about your product – blogs, Twitter etc. Ticking a box to say that a company has a Twitter account or a blog is just a first step. Damien is 100% right in that practitioners who preach the online message, need to first have that stage to stand on (online tools of the trade), but more than this they need to * commit * to that medium.

  6. Snap! Just caught that today too Damien. The PRII list of professional development programmes for this year is like a more expensive version of their diploma.

    I am glad to see here that they are at least looking at it for 2009…

  7. This is precisely why we’ve never outsourced our PR to any of the Irish PR companies.

    Most of them simply do not “get” internet technologies so for the moment at least I’ll stick to handling our PR instead.


  8. Wow, excellent post.

    And I agree with you. My experience with this is quite new but I cannot believe the lead times that traditional PR people think are acceptable; or the distribution networks.

    I am naturally impatient (bit of ADD in the genes) and I lose interest quickly in a concept if it is not picked up and run with.

    And I know the online community think the same. In fashion blogging (my hobby blog) we often laugh and sneer at the print mags and how even the weekly supplements are 2-3 weeks behind a trend spotted, blogged and disected by comments. The traditional fashion mags are laughably behind trend by the time they hit the racks. I havent bought a glossy for 2 years (do my laughing and sneering in the Hairdresser)

    And the Industry’s response to this? Some PR companies representing top designers are planning to do “private viewings” with major editors just to keep the ranges “a secret” until they are in print. ???!!!

    Just to stop bloggers reviewing all the catwalk shows and identifying key trends before breakfast the next morning.

    Check my BFF Imelda “Well Shod Well Imformed”

    Fashion is organic. And what grows feeds the next level. It is the dissemination of trends to street which make it possible for us to accept the new direction; and pay money for it.

    Trying to create a closed shop for publicity is like Monsanto trying to genetically engineer those crops that cannot self seed.

    Something will always pop up and the trad communicators will get left behind.

    I go with the new Mulley, EXCELLENT POST!

  9. Just to point out that O2 actually launched a pretty good feedback forum well over 6 months ago. There are O2 staff dedicated to engaging with customers and answering queries/complaints by liaising with the relevant teams internally (ie. retail/ tech support). Its also easily accessible via their wap site.

    Initial responses via was sceptical (moderated complaints etc!) but as time went by and complaints/queries were answered fairly quickly the satisfaction levels went up!

    …and no I don’t work for O2 😛

  10. Hi found this areticle by you Damien was looking for some thing else. Very interesting.
    I was wondering if and when this post might be updated and to see where things have moved on from here???

    Be a nice project 😉
    Chat soon 😉

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